Nepal issues 3rd gender PPNepal has placed itself among a handful of countries in the world to allow ‘other’ as a gender category in passports.
Manoj Shahi, who identifies self as Monica Shahi, will become the first person to bear a passport under the ‘other’ category. The government has already prepared the passport.
Rewati Poudel, a director at the Department of Passports, said they are waiting for Shahi to collect the document. “Shahi will be here from Kailali within the next few days,” Poudel told the Post.
Australia and New Zealand are the only other countries that issue passports with ‘x’ as an option for people who do not identify as male or female.
Earlier this year, Nepal
had amended the Passport Regulations, allowing
‘other’ as one of the gender categories.
In 2011, Nepal added a third gender category to census and the citizenship card, after which activists said they started negotiating with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as it was only natural for the provision to be extended to passport.
Nepal has the track record of being one of the most progressive countries when it comes to LGBTI rights in South Asia. Activists have lauded the achievement.
Pinky Gurung, chairperson of the Blue Diamond Society, said this was a milestone in their movement, particularly for the transgender people. “It’s great that the other category in citizenship has been extended to passport,” she said. “This is a historic moment.”
The Interim Constitution prohibits discrimination on the ground of sexual orientation. In 2007, the Supreme Court directed the government to amend laws that discriminate against LGBTI citizens. Sunil Babu Pant became the first gay parliamentarian in Nepal’s first Constituent Assembly, in 2008. The apex court in 2012 recognised live-in relationships for a lesbian couple.
A report on same sex marriage, released in February, recommended that Nepal legalise same-sex marriage, ensure family protections and strike out discriminatory provisions from the civil and criminal codes. However, challenges persist and the Criminal and Civil Code, set to modernise Nepal’s justice system, ignores the issue of LGBTI rights by not mentioning them anywhere in the draft, according to advocates.
The proposed Code implies that marriage can only happen between a male and a female, which could be fatal for proponents of same sex marriage. Activists have suggested the words ‘male and female’ should be replaced by ‘persons’.
Badri Pun, one of the proponents of same sex marriage and a transgender man said they will continue their fight. “It is crucial to remain vigilant. First we advocate. Then we need to make sure the law results in action,” he said.
Director General of the Passport Department Lok Bahadur Thapa said the software running the machine readable passport regime has been changed to ensure the “O” category.